Widow of boxer Gene Tunney dies at 100

April 15, 2008 at 1:29 PM
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STAMFORD, Conn., April 15 (UPI) -- Polly Lauder Tunney, a Connecticut heiress whose marriage to heavyweight champion Gene Tunney made headlines, has died at the age of 100.

Former U.S. Sen. John V. Tunney, D-Calif., told The New York Times that his mother died Saturday at her home in Stamford, Conn., a few days after suffering a stroke.

Mary Josephine Lauder, nicknamed Polly in childhood, was born in Greenwich, Conn. Her grandfather, George Lauder, was a Scottish engineer who joined his cousin Andrew Carnegie at the Carnegie Steel Co. in Pittsburgh.

Her sister introduced Polly Lauder to Gene Tunney, the son of a Manhattan longshoreman, just before Tunney defeated Jack Dempsey in 1926 to become heavyweight champion. Their engagement was announced two years later after Tunney retired from the ring.

Tunney, although a high school dropout, was known as an intellectual boxer both in his fighting style and his taste for serious literature and friendships with well-known writers. He later became a successful businessman.

The Tunneys lived in a colonial farmhouse outside Stamford, where they raised sheep and cattle. Gene Tunney died in 1978.

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